Okay, I know, everyone is doing best of decade posts, but I couldn’t resist. The last decade gave us some great gear and while many of you know I switched full time to Olympus more than three years ago, I actually started using Olympus Micro Four Thirds gear long before that.
In 2010 I picked up an Olympus E-P2, in 2011 I bought an Olympus PEN E-P3 and I enjoyed both of those cameras. Every time I used one of them the word “fun” came to mind. I got some great images from all of them, but was still shooting mostly Canon for my bird photography. Then something happened that really got my attention. In October of 2011 Olympus launched some lenses that really changed everything for me (and many others.)
One of those three lenses makes my best of the decade list.
When you think of well-built, fantastic, sharp, small, lightweight, accurate, easy-to-focus, and in my opinion, affordable lenses the Olympus M.Zukio 75mm f/1.8 ED lens should be near the top of the list. While at 150mm EFL, it’s not a typical “portrait lens” that is how I used it and I consistently had some of the sharpest pictures I’ve ever taken from this lens. Period. It is sharp and still has a lovely bokeh. Really lovely. I can’t stress enough how sharp this lens is. At the time it shipped, it was the sharpest lens I had ever used on ANY 35mm SLR or DSLR, Mirrorless or Micro Four Thirds system. It’s still available today, and while not mentioned all that often because it isn’t one of Olympus’ “pro” lenses, and maybe not as sexy as the new stuff, it’s a sleeper lens that I use every chance I get. It delivers pro results even though it isn’t a pro lens. Did I mention it’s sharp?
Next up, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO Lens is the ultimate bird/wildlife/sports photography lens. It is SUPER sharp, focuses quickly, and even has a built-in Arca-Swiss-compatible lens foot. It has fantastic optical performance with great contrast and great color clarity. It offers sturdy, weatherproof construction and best-in-class image stabilization. It’s all packaged in a compact form for outstanding mobility. This revolutionary pro-spec lens introduces the world to hand-held super-telephoto photography. It’s a prime with an EFL of 600mm. Pair it with either of the two Olympus teleconverters and it becomes even more versatile.
I tested this lens against both the Nikon 600 and the Canon 600 and the Olympus is simply sharper, especially at the corners. It’s a joy to use and I am thankful for it.
Lastly is (surprisingly for me) a zoom. The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO Lens is the most versatile medium-telephoto lens I have ever tested. For me, even though it isn’t my longest lens, it’s a spectacular wildlife/bird photography lens. It’s the best zoom I have ever used or owned. Despite being a powerful telephoto zoom lens with constant f/2.8 aperture and weatherproof construction, this lens possesses a compact and lightweight body. It’s a zoom with an EFL of 80-300mm. I picked this lens because almost 80% of my published photographs came from the 40-150. It’s color accurate, focuses quickly and accurately and is always reliable. I have traveled with this lens around the world and it never missed a beat.
Picking only three lenses to represent an entire decade is a daunting task. But I wanted to try. Depending on the type of photography you do, your list will probably be different. But if you’re in the market for something in this range for Micro Four Thirds, you cannot go wrong with any of these choices.
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